Six rants on Australia’s Indian misery

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Everyone has had something to say about Australia’s Indian capitulation and now it is my turn. Here are my six rants about the failed series.

Lack of Aussie Spirit

I’m still in a state of shock. Did Australia really lose 4-0? As mentioned previously, I’ve probably taken Aussie success for granted as my cricket consumption only spans two decades.

The mid-‘80s woes and the depleted Aussie line-ups of the late ‘70s are mere history lessons for myself. Sure, there have been some erratic performances since the Warne/McGrath era but as an Aussie fan, I always felt that the team was having a crack.

And really, isn’t that all we ask? A rational fan can accept losing, even inept performances, if they believe their mob is dinkum.

Unfortunately, for the first time I’ve had the misery of experiencing an Aussie team, pants down, producing one big dump on and off the pitch. Even until the bitter end, I still couldn’t contemplate Australia being swept.

I always believed that on pure pride alone, they could salvage a Test win. Plus, India has never been renowned for their ruthlessness, and indeed appeared to be sleepwalking during the opening two days.

But the fleeting hope of an Aussie victory at the start of day three was dashed by an idiotic batting makeover, pitiful shot selections and ultimately more bowling fodder in what should have been a riveting chase.

And it’s not like they were humbled by the 1985 West Indies. They were embarrassed, in the main, by an exuberant, hungrier and smarter Indian team. But an Indian team that had recently lost to a good, but not great, England.

I’ve long ridiculed the long list of inept touring sides down under. Karma.

Shane Watson

He’s been my whipping boy for some time but I really might lose my sanity if Shane Watson keeps playing Test cricket.

Perhaps unfairly crass, I described him as a “mendacious, whiny, thin-skinned bag of breeze” when it was confirmed he would take the captaincy reins just days after his homeworkgate hissy fit.

So, I was flabbergasted when he spearhead a sterling second day comeback with innovative fields highlighted by some trademark grit, so lacking during this Indian nightmare.

Unfortunately, and predictably, it was futile. Australia’s comeback was squandered by the insane decision to open with Maxwell, who despite his heroics in the shorter formats is not up to it.

He was ‘The No Show’ again.

And when it was time for Watson to stand up with the bat, he invariably couldn’t keep his ego in check and was dismissed attempting a limited overs shot.

But really why should we be surprised? Watson is the type who continually disappoints, particularly when relied upon the most. He outwitted himself with some baffling bowling decisions, including not starting with Pattinson – the only bowler capable of conjuring a miraculous victory.

Watson is akin to a habitually cheating partner. You hope they reform but eventually the time comes to end the façade.

The ONLY way Watson can redeem his Test career is if he starts bowling again and bats at six. Otherwise, it’s time to blood Mitch Marsh, whether he’s ready or not.

David Warner

I roll my eyes when David Warner acts Australia’s ‘Enforcer’? He appears to be evoking another attacking opener lefty – Matthew Hayden – with his diatribes to the opposition batsmen.

Except, Hayden was in a position of authority as one of Australia’s greatest openers, while Warner, despite the dazzle, averages under 40 in Tests and has been unable to shake his ‘hit-or-miss’ tag.

Warner is starting to irk me.

He appears to have fallen under the ‘meteoric rise bane’. Due to his T20 heroics he’s already a millionaire and a genuine entertainer adored by the throng of the shorter formats.

But the success has appeared to have skewed his concentration. He’s already talking about captaincy ambitions. He’s making a fool of himself on Twitter. He’s burdening himself with the arduous role of provocateur.

Warner needs a dose of Shield penance to not only regain humility but to hone his craft. Unfortunately, Australia’s dearth of batsmen means Warner is likely to hold his spot.

Look, I’m still a believer that Warner can become Sehwag 2.0. His brutal first day ton against South Africa in Adelaide swayed me. Let’s hope he regains his focus because I can already envisage the English cordon flexing their fingers.

Mitchell Johnson

Was the Fourth Test Mitchell Johnson’s Test swansong? Some believed he would have an impact in India but he produced nada when given the lifeline – no wickets and only three runs in the final match.

Mitch is probably the most idiosyncratic Aussie cricketer I’ve seen. He was arguably the world’s best cricketer in ’08-09 before personal problems and an Ashes embarrassment in ’09 battered his fragile self-esteem.

Apart from fleeting glimpses, notably the Ashes WACA Test, Johnson has failed to regain his former pomp. He was provided one last shot at salvation when the injury bane struck and the Aussie selectors started an Ashes audition.

Predictably, Johnson scythed the Sri Lankans but that may have been the last hurrah of his erratic career. It’s hard to see him bypassing Pattinson, Cummins, Starc, Siddle, Ryan Harris, Jackson Bird and even Ben Hilfenhaus.

I think he’s finished at Test level, which leads to the inevitable question – how will he be remembered? His stats are respectable – 51 Tests (205 wkts at 31, 22 with bat).

But the ’08-09 Australian summer will also keep gnawing. What could have been? He’s lumped in the ‘supremely talented, yet underachieving’ category.

For a sporting analogy, he’s reminiscent of Vince Carter or Tracy McGrady in the NBA. Gifted players with good careers but failed to fulfil their prodigious talents, due to mental fragilities, inconsistencies and injuries.

Clarke’s captaincy

This is hard to type, but shouldn’t Clarke endure some criticism? I’ve written previously that I believe he is has the potential to be on the Mount Rushmore of Australian captains.

On-field he’s wondrous with willow and superlative as a strategist. But, it’s evident that ill-discipline is rife in the camp. And, in cricket unlike other sports, the captain is commander of the ship.

Right now, Clarke is leading a rocky ship. And I hated how he left India before the ordeal ended. I know, apparently it was on the insistence of the medical staff. Surely, he could have stayed a few days longer?

Perception perhaps, but I have the uncomfortable gut feeling that there is disconnect between captain and crew.

Experience needed

The ICC plan to start a Test championship in 201, which will be held every four years. Aussie and English cricket don’t need a Test championship.

The Ashes is their championship. It’s the most prestigious and important prize for both countries. So, what I propose is that Australia disregard the norm and fields their best team.

Not the team groomed for the future but for the championship. I don’t mean begging Hussey or Ponting out of retirement. That will start the excruciating and endless ‘Warnie’s return’ stories. *shudder*.

But, how about drafting Chris Rogers at the top? He’s the best opener in the country. I’m not Haddin’s biggest admirer, and still think Wade is the long-term bet, but I think his experience and leadership could be vital in England.

The Ashes is basically a 10-match championship series.

So, here’s another variation of my First XI Ashes team: Rogers, Warner, Cowan, Clarke, Khawaja, M Marsh/Watson(only if bowling), Haddin, Pattinson, Harris, Bird, Starc/Siddle/Lyon.

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